READ: Psalm 134, Zechariah 13, Matthew 16, Titus 2
“Strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.” (Zechariah 13:7)
Many nomadic pastoralists across Africa surround their simple huts with a thorn-bush fence. Cows, goats, and sheep are brought into the enclosure at night for safety. Usually there is but one opening which is sealed at night by dragging a thorn bush into the breach and often this one gate is guarded. The gatekeeper has the responsibility to keep the predators out and the vulnerable ones safely in. God has set up gatekeepers in His kingdom–those in spiritual authority (fathers, pastors, leaders, etc.) whose responsibility it is to be the first line of defense, to keep the predators out. Jesus gave us the keys of the kingdom to bind and to loose (Matt. 16:19), to let the good things in and lock the bad things out.
Spiritual Authority is not given to us for the purpose of lording over others or dictating terms. The scriptures clarify that spiritual leadership is for the purpose of edification (2 Cor. 13:10). Gatekeepers serve those they protect by defending them from predatory doctrines, in reverence, integrity, and incorruptibility of the truth, adorning the doctrine of God in all things (Titus 2:7, 10).
Spiritual Abuse occurs when sound doctrine (v. 1) is abandoned for personal gain. Teaching the prosperity gospel is a prime example: prosperity doctrine is nothing more than a glorified Ponzi scheme that enriches the pastor at the top of the pyramid to the lack of the trusting giver at the bottom. We sheep are to beware bad doctrine for it always leads to our hurt (Matt. 16:12).
Spiritual Abandonment is the result of the gatekeeper letting the enemy in to wreak havoc on the vulnerable. If I as a father or a team leader allow lust to penetrate my mind, something happens at the spiritual level akin to me opening the door of the sheepfold to the wolves. The predators come in and massacre the sheep. Without removing individual responsibility, spiritual leaders can protect their flock from some demonic attacks by resisting and absorbing them. If leaders fall, the vulnerable ones are scattered. Spiritual leadership is the first line of defense for the body of Christ and small concessions to evil by the leader do immense damage within the fold. Spiritual leaders have the responsibility to guard the gates devotedly, letting in neither large lions or small foxes. Followers have the responsibility to hold up their leaders in prayer understanding how much demonic filth the leader can shield them from if the gate is kept firmly sealed. Little concessions by shepherds lead to concussive blows to the sheep.